What being welcomed into the Fitness Industry Roll of Honour means to me

By Justin McDonell – Co-founder & Chairman, Collective Wellness Group

I recently had the honour of being welcomed into the Fitness Industry Roll of Honour and while the news came as a great privilege, I must confess, I was caught by surprise at first.

I’m a person who naturally looks to the future, and as a co-founder of Anytime Fitness – now one of four brands under the Collective Wellness Group umbrella – my sights are constantly set on the what’s coming next, what we need to do to bring our brands to the next level and remain ahead of the curve in Australia’s bustling wellness industry.

It’s not very often that I take the time to look back at just how far we’ve come. I’ve been entrenched in the fitness industry for as long as I can remember. My parents operated gyms when I was growing up, and at eighteen years old, I opened my own gym franchise – my first of many I was yet to discover.

In the early 2000s, the gym market in Australia was largely monopolised by a few key players. Australians had few options to choose from and for some individuals, this meant no option at all. My focus was always set on making fitness more accessible and more convenient for as many people as possible. And that doesn’t just mean people in regional areas. It also includes people who work hours outside of the average working day, those who need more flexibility, and those who simply enjoy the improved privacy that training outside of peek-hours offers.

From my very first meeting with Anytime Fitness in the US – I knew it was a right fit. I wanted to bring something new to Australia’s fitness industry – I wanted to make fitness convenient for Australians, offering a quality product at an affordable price.  

We opened the doors to our very first Anytime Fitness club in 2008, and in nine short years, we’ve grown from one club to over 460 clubs nation-wide. We entered the market differently to our competitors, focussing on regional areas rather than capital cities. Our entry strategy might have appeared unorthodox for some, but in hindsight, it was one of the smartest business decisions we made. 

Opening our first club in Gunnedah – a small town in regional NSW – allowed us to trial our offering with low costs. We entered locations with minimal competition and maximum exposure to the local community. Our experience in regional Australia is what gave us the knowledge and framework we needed to support national expansion.

In my view, the success of Anytime Fitness in Australia comes down to a number of key factors. We entered the right market at the right time – there was a hunger in Australia for Anytime Fitness when we arrived, and this has been vital to our success. But first and foremost, the success of Anytime Fitness has been driven by our franchisees – entrepreneurs in their own right.

Our franchisees aren’t afraid to have a go and take risks, driving their business forward, and capitalising on opportunities as they arise. It’s this openness and determination that has led Anytime Fitness to where it is today, and I believe every member of the Anytime Fitness franchise should feel truly proud.  

When I’m considering a new business venture, I’m looking for quality, consumer demand and scalability. I want to build brands to be number one in their industry – and being inducted into the Fitness Industry Roll of Honour has been a nice reminder that I can achieve this.

We’ve succeeded in making an Anytime Fitness footprint right across Australia – transforming one club into a household name. I look forward to continuing my work with passionate franchisees moving forward, and I’m excited to see the impact we’ll have on Australia’s wellness industry in the years to come.